Chinese tourists forced into South Korea stores

By Hoang Vu   October 23, 2023 | 03:17 pm PT
Chinese tourists forced into South Korea stores
Chinese tourists shop at a Lotte duty free shop in central Seoul, South Korea, February 2, 2016. Photo by Reuters
Chinese tourists who arrived in South Korea on tour packages have been forced into stores to buy cosmetics products, nutritional supplements and duty-free items, a lawmaker said.

A total of 24 cases in which Chinese tour groups were pressured by their Korean tour guides to shop, were recorded between 2017 and September this year, Korea Times reported, citing Kim Seung-su of the ruling People Power Party.

Some tour guides even yelled at Chinese tourists who refused to shop, claiming that shopping was part of the tour program set forth by the Korean government, according to the report.

The Chinese tourists who were pressured to shop at South Korean stores were believed to have visited the country on individual tourist visas and purchased group tour programs through social media platforms such as WeChat, according to Kim.

Kim urged the South Korean government to make greater efforts to control the quality of tour programs in the country.

South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced plans last month to crack down on tourist scams, including overcharging tourists, underpaying tourism employees, and forcing Chinese tourists to shop, the Korea Herald reported.

Over 17 million Chinese people have visited Korea since 2017, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.

In August, China had added South Korea to the list of countries to which its nationals may visit on outbound tours, raising Korean hopes of an inbound tourism revenue boom.

South Korea has planned to waive its visa fee of 18,000 won (US$13.47) for Chinese tourists until the end of this year to help revive tourism as it seeks to attract 2 million Chinese by the end of this year.

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